Sometimes it seems impossible to drum up the time and energy needed to cook a healthy meal. And what happens to dinner when mommy (or daddy) has had a long day? In our house, we usually end up ordering a less than nourishing take-out dinner. What if there was a way to embrace cooking, even on the challenging days, and actually find contentment in it? Recently someone at in my mom's group mentioned Mindful Cooking. My ears perked up! I am a big advocate of mindful eating, so why I had I not thought to bring mindfulness to the kitchen as I prepared the food? As I started to read up on it I realized I already was practicing mindful cooking in many ways.
Mindfulness in its self is the state of being aware and present in the given moment. It is in those moments, when we allow ourselves to let go of that constant babble in the mind, we can find true contentment. “Be here now.” I often repeat this mantra to yoga practitioners when I am teaching. It’s easier said than done, but those moments of mental stillness can help us slow down and appreciate what is right before us.
The kitchen is the perfect place to practice mindfulness. There are so many opportunities to keep the mind actively engaged in the here and now. By tuning in to the smell of the food, the heat of the oven, the sounds of chopping, and the sight of our creations we can learn to enjoy the experience of cooking. Instead of feeling burdened by a meal, one can actually find it therapeutic and relaxing!
Try these simple exercises in the kitchen.
*Before you get started on any of the exercises below, put all screens and electronic devices out sight. ;)
This one works well if you have a lot of prep involved in your meal. With each
ingredient whether you are chopping, seasoning, mixing, try to visuals and
acknowledge the origin of that food. Did it grow from the ground? Or in a tree?
Did it walk or swim? Breathe? When we see our food as having an existence other
than on our plate we can truly appreciate it. Take a moment to express gratitude
for the nourishment that each food will provide.
Use Your Senses:
If you are cooking something on the stove or in the oven take a few minutes to
sit quietly nearby. Experience the
fragrances, sounds, and sights of your food as it cooks. Notice the subtle
changes in the room. Notice how those changes affect your body.
If your mind starts to wander off, gently
bring it back to your cooking meal without criticism or stress. Allow yourself
to appreciate the sensations that the impending meal drums up in your body and mind.
Infuse With Love:
Have you ever noticed that a home cooked meal prepared by a
loved one just tastes better? Your mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing? Or your grandfather's apple pie? It’s almost
as if you can taste the love. Many people believe that food can take on the
energy of the person preparing it and then be passed along to those who
consume it. Next time you are cooking for your family acknowledge how each food
will nourish those you love the most in the world. If you want to take it
further, create a mantra to go along with it… “I am cooking with love.”
If you are interested in learning more about Mindful Cooking, read "The Mindful Cook: Finding Awareness, Simplicity, and Freedom in the Kitchen" by Isaac Cronin.
Once upon a time I was an actor. I worked hard, networked, created, studied,
and struggled along with all the other actors in the industry... But gradually,
like the slow tearing off of a band aid, I gave up performing. I found that my
work as a personal trainer and yoga instructor was not only paying my bills,
but it was a more rewarding path for me personally. Part of me thought that I
was about to let all those years of dedication to the performing arts go to
waste. But as I built a business, I realized that the skills I used as an actor
were helping me succeed. I attribute my business’ success on the principles I learned
as an actor (and hiring others who share the same principles). What is it that
translates from the performing arts to the fitness industry so well?
As an actor I was taught that if you are not 5 minutes early, then you are
late. I had 50 other talented and qualified actors waiting in the wings to take
my job, so I was sure to professionalism a priority. Performers are, in fact,
running a small business. They carry marketing materials such as head shots and
business cards everywhere they go. Their style, attitude, and commitment to the
profession is key. They have to be on time, organized, and ready to execute on the
task at hand. Either that or they are replaced.
This way of thinking has benefited
me as I have grown Mind Body Fitness from the ground up, and this level of
professionalism is what I look for in the people I hire. That's why I can
proudly say that we have grown from a one woman show to a 11 person cast in a
few years. We could not have done that without being hyper-professional.
For any performer, the body is your
instrument. It needs to be fine-tuned. Health, self-care, fitness, and
nutrition are priorities to the intelligent performers. If the body is not functioning
correctly, then the performer is out of work. Not only do they know how to care for
themselves, but they also know how to carry themselves, move through space, and
use correct alignment. When I am teaching a yoga class I can always spot an
actor or dancer before they even mention it to me. They have true body awareness. This is an essential trait for anyone
working in the health and fitness industry. Our clients look to us for guidance
and inspiration. The ability to demonstrate
and lead by example is a must.
Ability to connect
The beautiful thing about actors,
dancers, and singers is that they often have the ability to genuinely connect
to those around them. They make friends
with others. They make people feel comfortable, and they create an atmosphere
of acceptance, collaboration, and encouragement. I truly believe that’s why a majority of our
clients stick with their program. They enjoy the time spent with their
trainer. It is not a chore. It is not
torture. Instead, it is an enjoyable part of their weekly routine. They are working together with their trainer
to create a work of art… Themselves!
I am so grateful for all my life experiences, and how they help me to grow. There are some things I miss about
my previous career. One day I may
revisit the stage, but for now the work I am doing is fun, rewarding, and a
continuous learning process, much like life as an actor.
I love me some steak (and chicken, turkey, ham, fish…and
BACON!). I always have and always will,
but over the last few years I have made a conscious effort to cut down on my
meat consumption. I don’t eat meat for
breakfast or lunch. I also plan for 1 dinner with meat and 1 dinner with fish
each week. Red meat is reserved for a once a month indulgence. Why have I cut back? There are real
benefits of eliminating meat from our diets (at least some of the time). For
the meat lovers out there like myself it might seem like a daunting task, but being
a part-time vegetarian is a good way to help your body, your bank account, and
Here is why I am a part-time vegetarian…
People who eat little to no meat have a decreased risk of obesity, heart
disease, high cholesterol, and certain cancers. Studies of more than 900,000
women done by the Archives of Internal Medicine have shown that women in
their 20, 30s, and 40s who ate red meat or processes meat on a daily basis were
more likely to develop breast cancer. And even more recently the World Health
Organization announced a direct link between processed meats and colon
cancer.Although the effects of meat
consumption are not thought to be as harmful as say cigarette smoke, the
findings are enough to make me cut down, especially with the processed meats! Bye
consumption can totally break the bank, especially if you are trying to eat
organic, grass fed, free range products (the “healthy” meats). Compare a $14 organic chicken breast to a $5
package of tempeh or beans. Or a $29/lb cut of organic beef tenderloin?! If you
opted for the plant based protein, you would be cutting out a major chunk of
change from the grocery bill. I save a minimum of $50 per week eating the way I do. Sorry,
Whole Foods, but you already take enough of my money. I am going to sauté some
Word is spreading about how the livestock industry is one of the leading causes
of global warming on the planet. There are a lot of percentages being thrown
around by environmental experts. The
facts seem to differ depending on who you talk to, but one thing they all agree
on is that meat consumption is harming the planet and will continue to do so if
we don’t change our eating habits. According
to World Bank environmental advisor Robert Goochland, it has been estimated
that up to 15% of the worlds greenhouse gases are produced by livestock and 61%
of those gasses come from cows. With a growing population and demand for more
food it is estimated that the world’s carbon budget will be exhausted by 2050. What?!
That’s terrifying. According the US Department
of Agriculture each American eats 125 lbs of meat per year, so I try do my part
by making meat a once in a while indulgence. At the risk of sounding super
corny and idealistic here… Just think of the difference it would make if we all
cut back just a little bit?!
said… The part-time vegetarian life style has worked for me so far. Could it work for you? I have some really great recipes for plant
based protein meals if anyone is interested.
Contact me anytime! [email protected]
A key piece to the healthy living puzzle is motivation. What keeps you motivated to stay fit? What inspires you? If you have not found something that truly motivates
you, then you may not be reaching your goals. Finding positive ways to
self-motivate will greatly increase your chances living your healthiest lifestyle.
For me it’s a combination of things…I do it for my husband.
I know he loves me even on days when I am disheveled, un-showered, and covered
in baby spit up, but I feel an obligation to make him proud (and in full
disclosure, I want him to think I’m hot). I also do it for my kids. I want them
to know the importance of having strength inside and out. I want them to live their lives to the
fullest, and having a fit body and mind will help them do that. Lastly, I it for my work. Knowing that my clients are looking to me for
guidance and inspiration keeps me going.
I want to set a good example for them.
So I guess you can say I do it all for love! The love of my husband, my
girls, and my work.
I started asking around to see what inspires my staff,
clients, and friends. Here is what they said. Maybe you will find something
that resonates with you?
Look good naked! –
Matthew Tanner from Chicago, IL
To maintain a body
that will have longevity. – Mary Griffith of Alexandria, VA
My kids. I want to set a good example and also be healthy for them.
– Liz Gould Zito from Brooklyn, NY
The way it makes me feel! I know that even a quick walk or stretch and
good food today will make a world of difference tomorrow. And secondarily,
knowing my clothes will still fit. I love my clothes.
– Patricia Shepard from Hastings on Hudson, NY
Working out helps me clear my mind of all my daily worries and focus on
feeling my muscles move, making sure I have good form, and sweating out all the
negative energies of the day. – Nicole Smith from Ashland, OR
To have more energy and sleep better at night! - Torie Woods from
If I eat something
naughty then it pushes me to try to undo the naughtiness. – Katia Billings
from Brooklyn, NY
Fear of getting old. – Anonymous.
When I see other
people getting in shape that inspires me to do the same. Then again, when I see
chocolate cake, I'm inspired to eat it. – Noel Heberling from Nutley, NJ
Having a better body than I did before kids! – Hillary Carter from
Having the strength to throw a heavy weight over my head makes me feel
sexier than any pair of heels in my closet can! – Melissa Tanner from
Not looking like a super model, but just being able to carry the
groceries. – Anonymous
Being a faithful caretaker of the body God gave me in order to fulfill
the responsibilities He has given me and to be thankful for it!– Carol Chao
from Dobbs Ferry, NY
The feeling of
accomplishment when I set a fitness goal and meet it and the increased energy
after a workout motivate me to stay healthy/fit. – Wendi Bean from
Pleasantville, NY (and MBF trainer)
I feel I am the most
committed to my own exercise when I have a vacation planned, an event to
attend, or anything in particular that would necessitate me working out more.
– Devin Thomas from NYC (MBF trainer)
The way I motivate
myself to workout used to be from an “avoidance” place and now it is coming
more and more from an “approach” place. I.e. my old thinking was, I need to
work out because I want to AVOID gaining weight. My new thinking is I want to
work out because I want to APPROACH (reap) all the amazing benefits that
working out has to offer my health (body, mind, and spirit). – Kati Cowardin
from Brooklyn, NY (MBF trainer)
Take care of your
body, it's the only place you have to live...:) –Angela Aiello from NYC
I have to admit...I think about it. A majority of my clients
think about it. Maybe you think about it? "I want to lose weight" aka "I
want to be skinnier." And the sad thing is most of the women I have worked
with over the years have not been overweight. They are usually women who with
age or motherhood or a little too much partying have put on a few extra
pounds. Nothing too serious, and nothing life threatening. I hear time and time
again that someone doesn't want their thighs to touch or thinks their arms look
fat. Believe me, I'm guilty of it too! I have been known to pinch the
skin next to my triceps and shake my head in shame. It's awful! It has been a
long journey for me. I needed to let go of that kind of negative thinking. I am
constantly trying to reframe my thoughts, and I encourage others to do the
same. Weight should not be the focus. Lifestyle should be the focus. Strength
should be the focus. Endurance, self-worth, and longevity should be the focus.
I've said it before...Being skinny does not equal being beautiful, and I want
to live that truth for myself, my daughters, and my clients. What would I be
teaching my daughters if they heard me use words like fat and chubby while
looking in the mirror? How would a client feel if I shamed my body in front of
them? I exercise and eat right. Could I do better? Sometimes, but the last few
years of my life have been the healthiest years I have ever lived. Any you know
what? I have not been my skinniest. My skinniest self was always
"hangery," skipping breakfast and lunch, drinking red bull and
coffee, and occasionally binging and purging. My self-esteem was low and my
body was suffering. It was not pretty.
So instead of asking yourself "how much weight do I need to lose?"
Ask yourself these questions…
What kind of exercise do I enjoy?
How can I fit exercise into my daily life?
What foods should I be eating?
What foods should I not be eating?
What obstacles are in the way of my making healthy choices?
How can I overcome those obstacles?
Once you have a clear picture of what your healthy lifestyle
looks like, then you can execute. Find a workout buddy. Schedule workouts in
advance. Plan ahead for healthy meals. Hire a trainer. Do whatever it takes to
exercise and eat right. If you are making good choices consistently (consistency
is an important part of this) the extra pounds will melt away without you even
realizing it. You will be living in your healthiest body. And just a warning….It
may not necessarily be your skinniest body, but it will be your strongest,
leanest, and sexiest!
**Special note to those who are naturally thin... If that is your healthiest self, then rock on with your skinny bod!! You are one of the lucky ones that can wear just about anything and look amazing. ;)